Thursday, 30 August 2012

Dark Dates round up - Look, Ma, I'm a radio star!

Just a quick one today to say that, should you wish to, you can listen to me being interviewed by the lovely Zoe Cunningham on Zone One Radio here... (This may be a time sensitive link).

And thanks to Night Owl Reviews for this lovely review.

So what are you waiting for? Go buy it...

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Stormwatch guests in I Vampire with fangtastic results

One of the joys and frustrations of reading comics is that no character belongs to one writer. Depending on their popularity and the internal politics of whatever company owns them, any character is likely to appear across a whole number of titles, either headlining their own spin-offs or appearing as guests in others. This can make for a continuity nightmare – good luck trying to keep up with heroes as popular as Wolverine or the X-Men – but it also means you get to see established characters through the filters of other writers and artists. Sometimes this works, bringing a fresh and interesting take on an established figure, sometimes it doesn’t, leaving you frustrated and annoyed at how ‘Batman would never do that’ (or Superman or the Hulk or whoever…)

As someone who now only dips in and out of comics, I’m pretty much resigned to only ever having a vague grasp on continuity: long years of being an X-Men fan have left me perfectly able to enjoy several different universes where Jean Grey is alive/dead/married to Scott/not married to Scott/any other variant thereof all at the same time; now when I read a book I’m happy if it works with its own internal rules, and don’t worry about where or how it fits into the larger picture. I’m also fairly flexible on characters – of course I prefer certain writers’ takes on a personality, but it takes a pretty big shift for me to actually think, whoa, hang on. (DC’s decision to turn Starfire into a lobotomised sex toy is a prime example).

I’ve blogged before about my love for The Authority (particularly the pairing of Midnighter and Apollo) and my disappointment about its new incarnation as Stormwatch. Sure, the old series could be patchy – my favourite runs were all early in the series, when Warren Ellis and then Mark Millar were helming, as I think both of these writers are great at team dynamics (it’s probably not a coincidence that both did sterling work on the X-Men) – but the characters were always interesting, and the relationship between Apollo and Midnighter I just loved. I loved the fact that it was a long-term relationship – the pair married and adopted a child – and that it always felt real, no matter the insanity of the story around it. So I was always going to be slightly disappointed in DC’s decision to dissolve the marriage in the reboot; their argument was it would be fun to see the pair meet and get together, which isn’t a terrible idea, though I think it makes them less interesting, and less groundbreaking (especially at a time when gay marriage remains a political hot button).

So, I went into Stormwatch with doubts, but ready to be persuaded. Alas, so far I’ve seen nothing to dispel my doubts. 12 issues into the run, the book seems hamstrung by clunky writing and a lack of direction: the old Authority stood outside the DC universe and now, making it fit into a world where no one, not even other heroes, knows they exist, seems to have left the writers struggling for stories. But what breaks my heart most is what they’ve done to Apollo and Midnighter. Sure, they’ve finally got rid of Apollo’s Fabio hair – never a good look – but he’s now, frankly, kinda whiny. Midnighter is SO ENIGMATIC AND TORTURED, and, unforgivably, his nurturing love of children – always a nice contrast to his homicidal tendencies – has been thrown out, as one issue saw him quite willing to kill the young Jenny (as this is the character who was his adored daughter in  the earlier incarnation, this seems especially mean-spirited.) His relationship with Apollo seems to have developed at a rate of knots despite being the least convincing flirtation in history (his initial chat up routine seemed to consist of completing Apollo’s sentences – which I’m sure we’d all find charming). (Though, in fairness, at least they just addressed the controversial chin spike issue in quite an entertaining way... )All in all, I was ready to give up, seek solace in my back issues and leave the characters alone until the next reboot came along and hopefully got a writer who knew what to do with them.
The new Stormwatch: featuring Apollo's new haircut
Then a Twitter friend, Kirke, who shares my Stormwatch despair pointed me to this month’s issue of I, Vampire. A run by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino (neither of whom, I admit, I have heard of), this book this month features a cameo from Apollo, Midnighter and Jack – and it’s great. The interplay between the three characters as teammates and the chemistry between the two lovers is both subtle and fun (clumsily and frequently  spelled out in Stormwatch, lest you accuse the writers of shying away from the gay, here it gets a cheeky nod as Midnighter checks out his BF’s arse when he flies off – well, you would, wouldn’t you? – but the writers see no need to lay it on with a trowel.) Plus Apollo is actually smart and charming in this, not the angsty whiner of the main title.  (“Apparently I’m vampire proof. The things you learn.” Or “Sorry, they bought both the new guys. If it helps, we both punch really, really hard.”)

The heterosexual relationship I think that is closest to the spirit of Apollo/Midnighter is, perhaps not coincidentally (again, the Ellis/Millar connection), Emma Frost and Cyclops – the cool, detached snark of badgirl-turned-good Frost meets downhome, honest-to-goodness, slightly too serious heroicness of Scott, but underlaid with respect, love, and the fact that they both know they can kick ass when the chips are down. These characters are Batman/Superman analogues, remember: you think if those guys dated it wouldn’t be fun? I, Vampire clearly knows it would be: this issue reminded me of why I loved these characters – and it broke my heart a little that the currently don’t have a title that does them justice. So, c’mon, DC; remember why these guys work. Make them fun again. And if you can’t manage that, give them a lot of guest slots.


Friday, 24 August 2012

Dark Dates Round Up and Fangirl Unleashed

So, another couple of fun things on the Dark Dates front this week: new digital imprint Red Button Publishing gave me a mention on their website, as Caroline Goldsmith, one of the founders, has been helping me market my book (and, of course, designed the cover for this and the next one). I also did a fun piece over at Daydrmzzz: an interview in character as Cassandra Bick. You can check it out here.

Meanwhile, over at Unleash the Fanboy, I wrote about my favourite non-geeky shows - yup, Leverage, Burn Notice, Big Bang Theory among others...

Monday, 20 August 2012

Dark Dates round up

Another update on the promotional rounds I have been doing for Dark Dates – and again an illustration of the many different types of blogs out there, and the kind of information that they like to have when promoting a book, so the types of things you need to consider when contacting them.

Over at the Jeep Diva, I got a straightforward review on the back of sending them a copy on spec, while Laurie’s Thoughts was an interview and excerpt.  I’m starting to find excerpts a great selling point, as several people have told me they downloaded the book after reading some of it on a blog post. I actually struck gold in contacting Laurie – she’s very active in the blogging community and sent me a tremendously helpful initial email, which included lots of tips on how I could get in touch with other bloggers, writing groups etc, and my interview with her has been repeated retweeted by people in her network, so I would heartily recommend indie authors getting in touch.
I also did an interview with Diana at Offbeat Vagabond, and Barbara at Reviewer Extraordinaire – as part of the Risque Reviews network, Barbara’s blog had a slightly different focus, but it was fun to bring out the sexier side of the book – and the excerpt in this post was a little bit steamier than the others I have posted!

I encountered Morgen Bailey through a writers’ group on LinkedIn, and she’s another author/blogger who is keen to support indie authors and has a strong network behind her, which saw my post repeatedly retweeted. In keeping with her site, instead of just talking about myself – again – I did a post on the 5 questions you should ask before you self-publish. She gets very booked up – this was scheduled in months ago – but she is a hugely prolific blogger, so definitely worth getting in touch.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Dark Dates round up

So, apologies for radio silence but have been on a much needed holiday to the lovely island of Jersey this week - which really excelled all expectations, leaving me knackered, slightly sun kissed but very happy. But of course in my absence the promotional engine for Dark Dates churns on - this week is all about working on the sequel, so it's nice to feel that the first one is getting out there and getting some attention. (Huge thanks, of course, to everyone who has bought it, and especially those who have taken the time to review it/comment on it online - it's really much appreciated.)

So this week has seen a giveaway and guest post at the splendidly named site Close Encounters with the Night Kind, who also posted a review, while over at Nocturnal Book Reviews, I got a  very nice 8.5 out of 10!

I've hopefully got some really fun stuff coming up, too, so watch this space!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Dark Dates goes multimedia and guest post round up

So, another week, another batch of blog posts, as I am trawling the internet trying to rack up sales for my book, Dark Dates. I must admit when I started doing this, I found it quite daunting - you're basically sending a whole load of emails going 'like me! like me!' - and there's a reason I never got into sales. But it's actually turned out to be a lot of fun: most of the bloggers and reviewers I have connected with have been lovely, which shouldn't, I suppose, be surprising, since we come from the same place - a love of books and, often, a love of paranormal/urban fantasy fiction. Even those reviewers who haven't liked the book - which, obviously, I respect, as no book will be for everyone - have tended to be 'this is not my thing, maybe you'll like it' rather than 'why does this woman think she can write?!', which means a lot to this thin-skinned writer's ego.

So below I'm including a round up of guest posts, interviews and reviews - but the really exciting news for me this week is that Dark Dates now has a trailer, c/o my lovely cover designer Caroline Goldsmith. Over to Caroline on why she thought it was worth doing...

Tracey and I talk about books a lot. And recently our discussions have all been about “Dark Dates” and how best to market it. Marketing self-published books is a maze that all authors need to navigate. Having worked in the publishing industry for more than a decade, I know that there is no magic key to success when it comes to book promotion. What I do know is that the more ways there are to find out about a book, the more chance there is of someone picking up on it.

As the first book has garnered a haul of good reviews, and part two in the series is due for publication later this year, I thought now was the ideal time to launch a book trailer. The London landscapes in the video are all made from photographs I took from the top of my old building on the river.
You can watch the trailer here, and read Caroline’s post about it here (which also includes details of how to contact her if you think she can help you!)

The rest of the week in round up:
Why do we love a bad boy? Over at My Tower of Books

Author Q&A over at Open Book Society

What you need to think about when writing urban fantasy (and review) over at LovLivLifeReviews

Review over at Natasja’s Book Blog

Why vampires aren’t stupid – and neither are their fans – over at When Pen Met Paper.

And of course you can buy the book that started this all… here!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Zombies are charming?

Readers will know I'm a long term fan of Stella My Star, who does amazing charm bracelets. I love this slightly creepy zombie charm bracelet (yup, that's a spine!) - check out her Facebook Page for more lovely things to buy...

Zombie charm bracelet from Stella My Star

Dark Dates Round Up and Teaser

So, my lovely friend Mrs Gold has been working hard on the cover for the new book (which I shall reveal nearer the time...) but she also created this lovely 'teaser' image. You can read her post on it here.

Meanwhile, author Nicole Hill kindly included me in her indie author spotlight, and Open Book Society posted this review.